1. Newborns
  2. Health & daily care
  3. Massage

Baby massage: in pictures

0-18 months

Getting started with baby massage

Massage can be soothing for babies. Make sure the room is warm, your baby is quiet, well-rested and alert, and you’re relaxed. Try massage after a nap, when your baby is being changed or in the cot, or after a bath. You can do massage for 10-30 minutes. 

Smooth a few drops of baby massage oil or simple moisturiser like sorbolene into your warm hands and massage the soles of baby’s feet. Use firm, gentle, slow strokes from heel to toe. Always keep one hand on baby. If you notice signs of allergic reaction to the oil, wipe it off and see your GP.

Do long smooth strokes up baby’s leg. Massage from ankle up to thigh and over hip. Massage both legs at once or one at a time. Avoid the genital area. Hold baby’s leg under the knee and gently press it towards the tummy to help release wind.

Massaging baby’s upper body

Start upper body massage with your hands on baby’s shoulders. Make gentle strokes in towards the chest.

Massage baby’s arms by stroking from the shoulders down towards the wrists. Try not to get oil on baby’s hands. If you do, wipe his fingers clean before he sucks them.

If baby’s tummy feels soft, massage his belly with circular, clockwise strokes. If he gets unsettled, go on to the next step. Avoid the belly button area if baby’s cord hasn’t healed. Don't put pressure on baby's diaphragm (area under the lungs but above the stomach).

Massaging baby’s face and back

Use your finger pads to massage baby’s face. Stroke from the middle of baby’s forehead, down the outside of her face and in towards her cheeks. Massage the scalp in small circles.

If baby is still relaxed when you’ve finished massaging the front of her body, you can turn her onto her tummy and use long, smooth strokes from head to toe.

Use a soothing touch and stop the massage if your baby seems uncomfortable. Avoid massage if you’re very tense, or if your baby is upset. Make sure your fingernails are short.

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Raising Children Network is supported by the Australian Government. Member organisations are the Parenting Research Centre and the Murdoch Childrens Research Institute with The Royal Children’s Hospital Centre for Community Child Health.

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